On Saturday, May 25, 2024, Pope Francis delivered a powerful and inspiring address to the National Directors of The Pontifical Mission Societies from 120 countries during their General Assembly in Rome. The Holy Father’s words underscored the vital role of TPMS in the Church’s global missionary efforts and called for a renewed commitment to the mission of evangelization and service.

In his address, Pope Francis emphasized the importance of TPMS’s missionary work and the need for a profound and personal commitment to the Church’s mission. He reminded the National Directors of their responsibility to be witnesses of the Gospel and to bring the message of Christ to the peripheries of society.

“The mission is not a task among others; it is the task,” Pope Francis declared. “You are called to be witnesses of the Gospel, to bring the light of Christ to the world, especially to those who are on the margins, to the poor, to those who do not yet know the love of God.”

Communion, Creativity, and Tenacity

In his remarks, Pope Francis interpreted three key words in a missionary context: Communion, creativity, and tenacity.

“When we contemplate the Trinity, we see that God is a communion of persons, a mystery of love. The love with which God comes to seek and save us, rooted in his being One and Triune, is also the basis of the missionary nature of the pilgrim Church on earth (cf. Redemptoris Missio, 1; Ad Gentes, 2).”

He then encouraged everyone to “grow in this spirituality of missionary communion, which is the foundation of the Church’s current synodal journey. I emphasized this in the Apostolic Constitution Praedicate Evangelium and I reiterate it now, especially as you work on renewing your Statutes. Since a journey of missionary conversion is necessary for everyone, it is essential that opportunities for personal and communal formation be provided in order to grow in the dimension of “communal” missionary spirituality.”

Creativity, he said, arises from being “rooted in God’s creative work, which makes all things new.” The Pope emphasized: “missionary activity is creative to the extent that Christ’s charity is its origin, form, and end. Thus, with inexhaustible imagination, such charity inspires new ways of evangelizing and serving others, especially the poorest.”

Defining tenacity, Pope Francis quoted his Message for World Mission Day 2024, saying: “Let us also contemplate this characteristic of the love of the Triune God who, in order to fulfill his plan of salvation, with constant faithfulness has sent his servants throughout history and, in the fullness of time, gave himself in Christ Jesus. The divine mission ‘is a tireless going out to all, in order to invite them to encounter God and enter into communion with him. Tireless! The Church, for her part, in fidelity to the mission she has received from the Lord, will continue to go to the ends of the earth, to set out over and over again, without ever growing weary or losing heart in the face of difficulties and obstacles.’”

A Call for Solidarity and Support

Pope Francis also highlighted the importance of solidarity and support within the Church’s missionary efforts. He encouraged the National Directors to foster a spirit of collaboration and unity, both within their own organizations and with the broader Church community.

“Solidarity is a fundamental aspect of our mission. We must work together, support one another, and be united in our efforts to bring the Gospel to all corners of the world.”

The General Assembly: A Pillar of Missionary Strategy

The General Assembly of The Pontifical Mission Societies is an annual event that gathers representatives from national offices worldwide and Vatican officials. It serves as a crucial platform for reviewing financial reports, allocating budgets, strategic planning, and evaluating ongoing projects. The assembly also focuses on policy making, training and formation of missionaries, and fostering collaboration among national offices.

One key focus of this year’s General Assembly is the renewal of the international statutes of The Pontifical Mission Societies. This renewal aims to ensure that the statutes are aligned with the current needs and challenges of missionary work and provide a robust framework for the future.

“The renewal of the statutes is a significant step in strengthening our mission. It will provide us with a solid foundation to address the challenges we face and to continue our work with renewed vigor and commitment.”

Embracing Challenges with Faith

Pope Francis did not shy away from addressing the challenges faced by TPMS in their missionary work. He acknowledged the difficulties posed by modern society, including indifference, hostility, and the secularization of cultures. However, he urged the National Directors to face these challenges with faith and courage.

“Do not be afraid of the challenges that lie ahead. The Lord is with us, and He will give us the strength to overcome every obstacle. We must trust in His providence and continue to move forward with determination and hope.”

A Renewed Commitment to Mission

Pope Francis’ address to the National Directors of The Pontifical Mission Societies serves as a powerful reminder of the importance of their work and the need for a renewed commitment to the Church’s mission. As the General Assembly continues to discuss and make crucial decisions, including the renewal of the international statutes, it is clear that TPMS is poised to continue its vital role in spreading the Gospel and serving the world’s most vulnerable populations.

In the words of Pope Francis, “Let us go forth, then, with renewed zeal and commitment, bringing the light of Christ to all people, and fulfilling our mission to be witnesses of His love and mercy.”